Crossing the threshold
Who do you trust? That’s a simple question, but the answer is as complicated as humans are. People have varying degrees of innate trust based on complex sociological factors. There are “low trust barrier” people who will forge relationships quickly and see the world from a “people are good and trustworthy until they prove you wrong” mindset. And of course, there are “high trust barrier” individuals – and people who fall somewhere in between the two. In fact, whole societies can be generally classified as high or low trust. Sweden, for instance, is one of the most trusting societies, which is a significant factor in low crime rates, low corruption and a general sense of prosperity in the country.
And, by extension, there are low barrier and high barrier trust industries, markets and organizations. Contrast inexpensive tangential purchases to high cost, mission critical services that involve extended relationships or deep integration. Finance, technology, healthcare and manufacturing typically involve a high trust barrier. The risk associated with a purchase is significant – and research, budgeting, and vetting of options are large parts of the evaluation process.
Put this all in the context of B2B marketing and sales. Buyers around the world have different trust thresholds. People don’t operate in a linear fashion when it comes to establishing trustworthiness with a potential partner. There are touchpoints all along the way that lend a sense of trustworthiness between a brand and a buyer.
In a high barrier trust sale, how a brand navigates these touchpoints is nuanced to say the least. Through a series of interactions – assuming prospects engage in them – competence, integrity and reliability must be established. Just as important is empathy. The biggest single enemy of establishing competence and integrity is self-interest. And brands have a VERY hard time treating potential customers as people. The marketing industry tends to see customers as targets, and customers can feel that through the ways brands approach them.
Your primary objective should be to help your customers, not sell them. To imbue them with your knowledge without intermingling your self-interest. That should impact your content strategy, your tracking and gating strategy, and your lead gen strategies. And it shouldn’t stop there.
So, if you’re a brand, do you have a sense for whether your customers have a high or low trust barrier? Are you taking the right approach to establishing competence, integrity, reliability and empathy along the buyer’s journey? Do you view prospects as targets or people? Are you helping them cross the threshold to trust you?
“Put this all in the context of B2B marketing and sales. Buyers around the world have different trust thresholds. People don’t operate in a linear fashion when it comes to establishing trustworthiness with a potential partner. ”